5 Ways To Make The Smartphone A Learning Tool For Your Child
Are you worried that your child is addicted to the mobile phone? Actually, with the right approach, it can be turned into a smart learning tool. Here’s how.
By Tushar A Amin
The television commercial promoting one of India's leading educational platforms features worried parents snooping on their children as they sit glued to their mobile phones/tablets, till the children reassure them that they are not wasting time, but learning. This just about sums up every parent's attitude to mobile devices on one hand, and on the other, the way they can be moulded to be useful.
The very nature of the Internet – with its free and easy access to content, both beneficial and harmful – justifies parental fears. In contrast, the television, the bugbear of the previous generation of parents, was family-oriented technology. Parents could monitor and control what was watched, and could force children to stay off TV too. The Internet, on the other hand is delivered on a personal platform – mobile phones and tablets. Encroaching on personal space, even of your own children, makes for an unhealthy relationship. This leaves parents with the dilemma of having to choose between the instinct to protect their children and the need to give them their space.
However, the scenario need not be as stressful as it seems. Our children have the right to their influences. Embracing the new medium as integral to the modern day child’s shaping influences, and establishing a healthy attitude towards it can transform mobile devices into affordable and adaptable learning platforms. Approached from the right perspective, the benefits of mobile phones can outweigh the fears they induce. Also, do a little research and discuss with other parents the issues you face. Collective wisdom is often helpful.
Here are five ways that mobile phones can actually help your child:
Puts the world in your child’s palm
Access to the best sources of knowledge and information from around the world is the single most empowering advantage that mobile phones offer children. With the right guidance, this access can fuel curiosity, provoke wonder and inspire your child to explore the world in ways that were unimaginable even a decade ago.
- Tip: ‘Searching’ on the Internet is a skill. Encourage your child to develop the ability to pick the best keywords to get the most comprehensive and speedy results.
Learning is no longer restricted to classrooms. Mobile phones ensure that a child is able to access knowledge and information wherever and whenever she wants.
- Tip: While the Internet can be accessed round-the-clock, designating ‘Internet Time’ builds discipline. It is recommended that mobile phones be avoided during dinner time and kept away at least one hour before bedtime, so that social skills and sleep patterns are not affected.
Opens up new dimensions
The Internet offers ways of accessing knowledge through dimensions that were hitherto undreamt of. Using mobile phone-driven technologies like Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, children can now explore worlds beyond our sensory dimension. They can interact with dinosaurs, take a trip around the solar system, and ‘virtually’ enter myriad other alien dimensions to experience their ‘reality’.
- Tip: Encourage your child to seek out online learning experiences rather than passive video viewing to keep him curious and ahead of the pack.
Acts as a skills learning tool
Through the many immersive, mixed reality learning apps available today, children can acquire a wide spectrum of futuristic skills, be it robotics-based coding or the fundamentals of a foreign language, learnt at their own pace.
- Tip: Use websites like Common Sense Media to research and evaluate apps, games and video channels that offer the best learning benefits to children.
Enhances neural functions
Though many parents look down upon mobile phone-based activities as passive and mentally stunting, fundamental cognitive, motor and analytical skills are called upon to manoeuvre through even a simple game. Knowing which key or icon to tap, and anticipating the next move of a virtual opponent involves complex neural functions that most children are comfortable with even at the toddler stage these days.
- Tip: Encourage your child to explore new interactive experiences rather than getting stuck with the same game or app, as after a while interactions become automatic and learning stops.
The bottom line is, mobile phones can make learning exciting for children, and open up the world for them. Instead of reacting with suspicion to new technology, make mobile phone usage a part of your efforts to bond with your children.
The author is the co-founder, CMO/CSO/CCO of Smartivity.
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